Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Redefining Muslim Publics - Eickelman and Anderson

   In the reading by Eickelman and Anderson on "Redefining Muslim Public", they make it clear from the start how transglobal and accessible, information has become. This therefore influences political and religious authority. They state that the Muslim community whether they be the majority or minority, they have created their own public "sphere" or sector. The sector is operated by "civilians" and outside government control is nonexistent.
  They state that the fact that this technology and availability of it to new users is the cause of the spread of awareness within Islamic values, fostering different perspectives in a public space which is free from a regulated formal institution. In such case Eickelman and Anderson argue that new ideas are formed within community, leadership, and identity. They also mention how "states" or government has tried to control mass media or influence it because they are aware of the strength and power it has in order to systematize.
  The fact that media is not only used to spread information but plays a major role on the economy and other aspects as well and therefore since they're interdependent the restriction of their use could be fatal. Media has such a large impact that even Islamic law journals that are open to the general public encourage the exchange of views with the editors and consequently enlarge legal interpretation in many ways. The spread of Islamic faith has adapted through comic books, tv, novels, and even theater.
  They state that new media has blurred the line between public and private communication. New media has transformed the idea of the public into anonymous senders and recipients. Modern society is in conclusion more prone to meet in a common space through a variety of media forms, hence more likely to form a common opinion through dialogue and exchange of ideas.

New Media/New Jews - Shandler

This is Shandlers section on contemporary affects of media and the Jewish religion. He discusses that new media is often viewed as one extreme or the other in religious terms, either a miracle or a devil. People often jump to conclusions instead of just waiting it out and actually see the affects. One of his examples was the CD of the Talmud, in which one of his prof’s was certain would result in Talmud being out of a job, which was not the case, things are rarely that transformational. And although it also became online, this is digitalized form only goes so far. The Talmud is even available with podcasts and programs from websites. This online source has taken away the traditional study of the Talmud, to where a person had to know the entire book and remember details as small as where on the page was the information located, and on what page. Though digital forms take away this aspect, it does not remove the difficulty of the content of the book, and is still extremely hard to master. Therefore this digital form changed the ways of teaching and testing the students, not the actual mastery or job of the Professors of Talmud
Many positive views of new media encourage a change of the way of life. New media is different ways of socializing, connecting and engagement with others. It also serves as new ways to enter Judaism, and alters their spiritual journey. For example the book Judaism Online: Confronting Spirituality on the Internet by Zakar and Kaufmann, displays the media’s impact on converting to Judaism.  Open Source Haggadah is another example of this (Haggadah is text that you read before Passover Seder, a commandment of teaching your children the stories). Also Jewish forms of programs, matchmaking for dating and worship is available online and even a 3-D website of virtual Jews (Second Life) which has synagogues, holocaust memorials, museums, etc online. Second Life is an online world, a second realm for Jews and Non Jews to better understand, a way to reinvent themselves as Javatars as they call it. This program is intended to facilitate interest in Jewish culture and heritage, but its affects are yet to be determined.  Second Life also has a matchmaking business, but it is uncertain that those people seeking love are Real Life Jews.  Their purpose was to recreate the Jewish debate, and stimulate interest in the culture. For others, they claim they aren’t different between realms, and that Second Life simply offers and extension of the Jews they already are
Another virtual Jew are the ones in Germany, though they play Jewish music, do Jewish theater, etc they aren’t actually Jewish, developed by desire instead of actual facts or traditions.

Some may say that these medias inhibit information, and end humanity, but others argue that it enhances it, and “increases centrality of the body”, intensifies their life and culture and grows the Jewish network. However, Shandler wants to emphasize to not take extremes, and find peace “somewhere in the middle”, new media gives us options. A negotiation, a compromise in the community a way for the observer to play a role in participating/experiencing the Jewish life and obstacles, and see new possibilities for practices.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"Digital Arabs" Sisler

Sisler’s article “Digital Arabs: Representation in Video Games” is a great article highlighting the stereotyping done in various video games. He begins with the perception of representation as more than just the visual representation, but that the storyline, perspective and main characters play large parts in what the game represents. He goes on to cover the perspective most often displayed in military based games; the “self” versus the “other.” In American video games, the collective self is the American military and the other, who is the enemy, is often Arabic or Islamic. According to Sisler, “The enemy is depicted by a set of schematized attributes...headcover, loose clothes, dark skin colour.” This is a clear example of the stereotyping seen in almost all types of media in the United States. Also, as in the video games Full Spectrum Warrior and Delta Force, the “enemy” is most nearly demonized by the game in that the Arabic soldiers engage in cruel and inhumane actions. Most of the stereotyping, as in other forms of media, is in many ways a result of 9/11. However, those in Arabic countries who have seen their young people play these American games are concerned with the impact it has on their youth. In response, they have created their own video games. The only difference between their games and the American ones is the perspective from which the gamer plays. The premise is still us versus them, only the “us” side is made up of Arabic and Muslim characters and the “other” side is made up of Israeli people. In conclusion, I feel as though the stereotyping done in America towards Arabic people groups is not uncommon by any means. It should not come as a surprise that the collective self can be any group of people and the other, which is the enemy, is whoever the game designer wishes them to be. This article really shows how deep this tendency to stereotype a people group that is very misunderstood really is in both American culture and even Arabic culture.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Islam and Judaism in an age of Internet

In week 9 we will consider how Islam and Judaism have appropriated and adapted to the Internet. First we will investigate how Muslims have been framed in popular video games though reading Vit Sisler’s article called “ “Digital Arabs: Representations in Video Games”.  Then we will consider how different Israeli Jewish groups have responded to the internet by reading an article I have written entitled “Religious engagement with the internet within Israeli Orthodox groups”. Looking at these reports and arguments together we will seek to identify what factors influence different religious group’s positive and negative reactions to digital media and how digital culture shapes religious group’s response to media more broadly.

Abdallah-Post 9/11 Media and Muslim Identity in American Media Summary

In Abdallah's article titled. "Post-9/11 Media and Muslim Identity in American Media", Abdallah states that a main reason why that the Americans who hate Muslims and Islam do so because they are not fully educated on what Islam is actually about and where it comes from. He goes on saying that the American media has distorted facts and stories to the point where Americans have not been accurately informed that the news is showing the extremists and terrorists who use Islam as a cover or scapegoat instead of clarifying that that is not a true portrayal of what Islam is really about. After 9/11, some media sources hired more Muslim writers to provide a less-biased view of the coverage. Slowly, many Americans have begun to realize that Islam is not prominently in just the Middle East but in Africa and other places as well. In addition, many were surprised to discover that most Muslims abhor the violence and killings just as much as some Christian and Jewish communities. If the media can just move away from the stereotypes, Americans will be more able to form a solid opinion about how they feel about Islam and Muslims.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cohen “News Values, ideology and the Religion Story”

The Coen Article started of by introducing the supreme court case from the 1994 appeal of Playboy over broadcasting in Israel. The author stated that it is important that in understanding the "construction of religious news" we must understand the  "psychological and ideological news values" The article goes on building ground work by defining news as a "Crisis involving religion".  The article explains how news and  to many religions in israel is defined as something not only close to the audience geographically but also religiously. It also goes on to explain how Religious Icons (Rabbis)  are typically more prominent than other individuals in the news. The article goes on to explain how in 2000 when many media sources where polled it showed that 10% of the coverage was over religion in secular outlets. It found also that there where more television stories covering religion than news papers. Conversely in the United States, religion was more popular in the Newspapers. Cohen goes on to  write that politics and religion are the most covered subjects and that the most covered topics of the two are intact religious political parties. In the jewish media Cohen elaborates the elitism or elites in the religious sector such as chief rabbis take a large percentage of the religious media coverage. Cohen continues by stating that ultra Orthodox Jews count for a major percent of the news coverage but a small percentage of the actual Jewish population. In this section he continued elaborating how small sects took up large portions of the media coverage. In the next section Cohen explained how in areas of higher populations of different religious faiths that where larger than Judaism where found to be covered more in the news, for example the headquarters for the lutheran church in Minneapolis. Cohen goes on to talk about Ethical constraints and how there is no "tradition of complete freedom in Israel" like there dis in the U.S. The extent to what the news is restrained is based off of the Public and Official institutions as well as the influences of society. He goes on to discuss instances of ethical refute when one figure would do something 'un-ethical' like the case involving Dor Zadik and the questionable background. He also explained how the method of news being spread affected the public reaction using instances when Rabbis where accused of crime and how the public reacted differently to each. One was announced via a rumor, another by a group of Rabbis and finally by a newspaper. Cohen explains that Rabbis are often the center of news publications and scandals and that there is not a consensus among Rabbis on weather or not it is an ethical practice . He goes on to explain that Israeli law prohibits Damaging of religion or religious figures showing just how rooted religion and the Jewish faith are in Israeli society. One major problem that is being faced as explained by Cohen is the actual broadcasting of television and radio on the Sabbath. The article goes on explaining the pros and cons of the broadcast and explains how in wartime the benefits of utilizing the broadcast system to alert of rocket attacks would be invaluable. He goes on to articulate the moral and ethical dilemmas faced with broad cast and news. In all the Article explains how Jewish society handles the influences of modern media and how some have accepted it but many are still not on board. The article argues that media affects the way religion is perceived by outsiders and is poised to cater toward those religions that are more abundant geographically. The article also emphasizes how religion in israel in a sense controls media or the censorship of it via political and social power. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Interpreting Media Portrayals of Islam and Judaism

In week 8 we will seek to interpret different media portrayals of Islam and Judaism, by comparing and contrasting how Muslims and Jews have been framed by mass media outlets. We will specifically look at news coverage of Jewish and Muslims groups.  Our first reading is a book chapter by Aslam Abdallah that looks at journalistic post 9/11 media and Muslim identity in American media.  We will also read and reflect on Yoel Cohen’s study of Israeli media coverage considering how news values and cultural belief frame coverage of religious stories about Judaism in the press. Together these help us identify the common narrative and essentialist notions of religion often communicated in press coverage about these religious traditions.